Image credit: Acer ITS
The pandemic nearly shut down public transportation in urban areas. In early 2020, US transit ridership dropped nearly 80 percent, and it remains well below pre-pandemic levels one year later. That decrease reflects the shelter-in-place orders, the shift to working from home, and commuters’ continued concerns about catching COVID-19 on a crowded, crusty bus or train.
Even as businesses begin to welcome back employees and cities open up again, people are foregoing public transportation, instead opting to drive their own cars. With more cars on the road and more drivers vying for available parking spaces, cities are investigating smart parking systems.
Smart Parking Options
Several companies including Acer ITS have developed smart parking solutions that can help drivers and cities manage on- and off-street parking. Acer ITS developed the Smart Parking Meter, smartphone app, and cloud-based management system using the Intel Atom® and Intel® Xeon® processors. The smart meter uses cameras, sensors, and cloud-based technologies to detect when a car pulls into a spot. It has a triangular shape, which allows it to capture the license plate of the car, even when parallel parking. The data is sent to the cloud, which then updates the system’s backend database, indicating which parking space is occupied. When the car leaves, the system again captures the license plate and matches it in the system to indicate that space is vacant.
Acer’s off-street parking solutions also use license plate recognition software, capturing plates as cars enter a parking garage and automatically charging them when they depart. Parking operators don’t have to have manned payment booths or maintain automated ticket readers. Fees are automatically generated, improving accuracy and timely payment. In the COVID era, that’s also fewer touchpoints and a reduced likelihood of virus exposure.
Drivers use the mobile app to locate available parking spaces in real-time and can comparison shop. The app can post prices, which can change based on location or spaces available, and users can reserve spots and pay in advance. It also can tie into the user’s navigation system to provide directions to the correct location. The app supports online payments from credit cards, debit cards, and other forms of payment.
Better for the City
Not only are smart parking solutions more convenient for the driver, they also benefit the parking operators, the city, and the environment. With parking availability at their fingertips, people no longer have to circle the block to find a space. That helps reduce carbon emissions, saves gas, and reduces road congestion. Garage operators benefit from drivers knowing which garages have available parking, and operators can price those spots competitively.
The Acer parking data can be uploaded to Smart Traffic Cloud Solution. With real-time information, municipalities can dispatch parking patrols to specific locations to ensure compliance, and the automated system reduces the likelihood of human error in ticketing. Using data analytics, cities can also assess traffic patterns and gaps in available parking options.
According to a report from Grand View Research, the interest in smart city solutions is propelling the smart parking market, which is expected to triple in the next several years, reaching $14.3 billion by 2027. Smart parking meters are an easy entrance point, and they provide operators and city managers with volumes of data for additional analysis.